I have talked over the last few blog posts about finding influencers to interview, how you can approach them but what do you do when they have said yes and the time to interview them has actually arrived? I have put together some of the tips that I have learned that will help you even if you have conducted a few interviews before.
To make sure that frustration doesn’t creep into the interview and that energy levels are high you need to make sure the lead-up and the prep work is done. Ensure that you have pre-arranged the tech so ask them to turn up early so you can make sure that internet connections are strong, microphones are working properly and that the webcams are connected. There is nothing worse especially if it’s going out live when there are these types of problems at the start of an interview. If necessary arrange a quick run through before the actual date just to check all is working well and that the interview will go ahead without any hiccups, it will help keep the focus on the conversation and remove any stress about the tech not working properly really useful if the person you are interviewing is nervous or has never done an interview online before.
Easy Questions and Small Talk First
It’s good to open an interview with an introduction and a few basic, easy questions to start with. These should be questions the interviewee is comfortable with and maybe has a prepared answer for already. Do your welcome then ask them to explain briefly who they are, what their expertise is, a bit about how they got into the industry. You’ll get more into the complicated stuff through the course of the interview, but at first, start with simple topics which are based on them and their own history as this is something everyone can answer easily and gets them into the flow of talking.
Erase the Ums and Uhs
When I first started interviewing and public speaking like most people I had never heard myself talk before and was I surprised when I realised just how many verbal ticks I had. Umms, errs, SO at the beginning of a sentence…
If you’re recording the interview and publishing it in audio or video form, you’ll need to watch out for these. These filler words and sounds are used in everyday conversation but in a recorded interview, they can become terribly annoying. If you haven’t recorded yourself speaking much, do a trial run and listen to your speech mannerisms. Over time you WILL get better at removing these, and you will find that they are eradicated from conversation also.
It sounds a bit mad but having good posture and eye contact during a video recording makes a big difference. Sitting up straight helps with your breathing and the way you speak, checking where your webcam is so you are looking at the person on video, not on your screen helps also.
It’s amazing how many people watch the screen yet when they look back are looking down and appear disinterested yet as a presenter I know exactly why that has happened. It does feel a bit strange to start with but you soon get in the habit and it then starts to feel normal.
Listen actively to what is being said after all they are your guest and have something interesting to say, ignore distractions. Don’t think about what you’re going to say next. After the interviewer is done speaking, repeat back to them a summary of your understanding of what they’ve said. This is a great tool for communication because it clarifies that you understood the meaning and also restates the main point for your listeners.
A good interviewer will allow the conversation to flow naturally and this may disrupt your pre-written questions slightly but hey we are human beings and providing its kept on topic then go with it.
I can’t state how highly important it is to know when to stay quiet. However when you do have someone you are interviewing that just keeps going and this can happen because they are nervous. You need to find a natural pause (normally when they come up for air) to jump in and regain control of the interview again.
Ask for Clarification, Details, and Examples
You’ll create a list of questions for your interview, but you should also ask follow-up questions to their answers that clarify what they have said, ask for further details or ask for examples, case studies are always a fantastic way to express something as we can all relate to other peoples experiences it add a real connection element to the interview as well. This shows that you’re listening but also allows you to get more deeply into specific topics that you think your audience would be interested in.
Ask them before the interview for any links they may have for their website or social media channels, this will save all the ‘how do you spell that’ situations which don’t come across too well.
See It as a Conversation
Your interview shouldn’t be an interrogation. Rather, it should be a conversation. Relax and be natural. You don’t have to just ask questions and listen to the interviewee’s answers. Keep it relaxed and conversational, and guide the conversation through your questions. If you have done your homework and have a relationship with the person you are interviewing this will make it easier for you. If you have no idea what they are up to in their business or in their lives then this may prove to be a bit more tricky.
Keep calm and keep the reigns of the interview firmly in your hands, when we see a good interviewer it’s made to look easy, they look relaxed, often laughing with their guest and keeping the conversation flowing, this hasn’t happened by accident it takes preparation, an experience something everyone can achieve.
To Your Success